David M. Bueker wrote:How about shifting my ranges as follows (no botrytis prohibitions):
70 - 85 kabinett
80 - 95 spatlese
90 - 120 auslese
115 - 160 beerenauslese
>160 - TBA
David M. Bueker wrote:1. The market for kabinett is real because it is a distinctive style of wine that is low in alcohol and very refreshing while also showing that (rightly) vaunted sense of place. In doing a "parcel selection" (more on those later) you would very likely lose that as riper grapes or grapes with significant botrytis got into the mix. Kabinett is popular because people like it, and from good growers it's a magnificent wine, reflecting both the style of the producer and the site on which the grapes were grown. Yes most of it is now what used to be called spatlese, but that's why I created bracketed oeschle levels. Let's keep the auslese out of the kabinett, thus retaining some resemblance to what great kabinett is all about.
2. Attempting to raise the bar for German wine by changing the system is doomed to failure. No matter what system you have in place there will have to be loopholes (politics rule the world), and the majority of wine will fit through those loopholes. Regions with vaunted wine quality (and why the quality of top German wine is still lumped in there with lower level plonk is beyond me) still have their oceans of mediocre wine. I don't hear anyone calling for California to undertake a massive re-write of their laws to prevent Franzia White Zin. There are numerous passionate importers (e.g. Theise and Weist but others as well) bringing much of the best of what German has to offer into American shops. Sure some other importers bring in Blue Nun and Black Tower, but again White Zin gets shelf space without affecting the reputation of Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.
3. Parcel selections are already being done by some growers. Johannes Selbach releases two wines, the 'Rotaly' and 'Schmitt' as parcel selections. Everything gets picked at once. Guess what you get: monster auslese (admittedly beautiful mosnter auslese), precisely the hardest type of German wine to sell. So sure we could go with that model, but we would be dooming German winemakers to financial failure.
4. I know I'm not crying out for the good old days (in fact the only person I kno who is would be John Trombley). Things may seem confusing under the 1971 wine law and all the additions (both legal and quasi-legal), but it doesn't take any more study to get it than it does for Burgundy. I know as I have taken the time to learn both areas.
5. Take away the pradikat system and Germany is just another region with Riesling on the label and no indication of what you are getting in the bottle. The way the pradikats have been modified in practice speaks to a growers intent (much like pre-'71 labeling), giving consumers at least some indication of what they are getting. Bracketing the oeschle levels would help bring more clarity to that result.
Jeff_Dudley wrote: we call them "spat-BA" around here !
David M. Bueker wrote:Bill,
The Gunderloch Jean Baptiste is labeled and sold as kabinett. It is also frequently blended between Nackenheimer Rothenberg and Niersteiner Pettenthal (both red slope vineyards, but two distinctly different sites IMO). Also please bear in mind that Gunderloch has a specific aim of presenting a medium-dry house style wine here, so it's actually an exception to just about everything else being done in Germany. It really doesn't make your point.
Overall oeschle levels for estate wines (the Gunderloch Kabinett or others) have risen just as much as for other types, it's just that as estate Riesling they start at the lowest end of the scale. Donnhoff's Estate Rielsing QbA is normally well into Spatlese these days, sometimes pushing Auslese, yet he sets a balance in the wine (through dialing in the RS and also through blending of two different sites) that keeps it resembling QbA or Kabinett year after year (though if I were to line up the 1996-2006 of this wine (and I could until very recently) you would see a progression of richer and richer wines. The same goes for the Jean Baptiste, with the mid-late '90s versions of the wine being less forward and rich than the versions from 2001 onward.
Austrian federspiels (to use the Wachau term for the lightest wines) are fermented dry and normally have 11% minimumor so of alcohol (I am deliberately using the low side in this example). Guess what - that converts to about 85 degrees oeschle, well into spatlese. If we're talking 12% alcohol in a dry wine you are up to Auslese levels. Also the acidities are lower thus making the dry wines of Austria taste less shrill that some kabinett trockens of Germany.
As for Johannes Selbach deliberately setting out to make a monster wine, that is manifestly not the case. Schmitt and Rotlay are purely an attempt in block picking (as opposed to the selective harvests normally practiced in Germany) to see what happens. Your comments on low yields add nothing to that particular part of the discussion, especially since Mother Nature has done her best in recent years to shorten the crop through no deliberate attempts of the growers. There are few if any growers in Germany trying for the low yield extremes. It doesn't give them what they want in the wines.